Climate Change Gardening

Found Gallery, the sensational contemporary art gallery in Brecon, Wales complimented the gorgeous exhibition, Found In The Garden with a series of talks. I was invited to have a conversation with the incomparably wonderful author and forager Adele Nozedar about Osprey Studios Sculpture Garden (which had just been selected to be part of the National Garden Scheme for 2020), climate change and where this is taking my sculpture.
Punch Maughan and her kind, thoughtful Team made the beautifully lit, spacious gallery welcoming and comfortable with tea and delicious cakes. A lovely, really interesting mix of people came along and the discussion was fascinating, thought provoking and very helpful.
Osprey Studios is at the foot of Cribarth, The Sleeping Giant Mountain, in the extraordinary Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark.
Gardening to fit in with the wild-life in your region really makes a difference. In a wide open, often harsh environment like the Brecon Beacons offering wildlife shelter, homes and food counts, especially when seasonal changes are messing with their usual routines. Artist/Gardeners Karin Mear and Nigel Evans at The Happy Gardeners know the area intimately and along with others in the group described the long, dramatic evolution of this land that reminds us that the Natural World changes constantly. But usually it does that very slowly.
Cribarth creates a boundary that holds wild, harsh weather largely on this side of it’s ridge. Just over this horizon, less than quarter of a kilometre away, is Osprey Studios, protected in a much warmer, milder micro-climate with the southern face acting as a sun trap all year round.
Walking out due north from Cribarth across extraordinary geology laid down by a warm sea and then exposed again by glaciers.
Breconbeacons.org : “The carboniferous limestone of South Wales was formed in shallow tropical seas in the Paleozoic era, over 300 million years ago. Much of it is of organic origin, being the shells and skeletons of sea creatures, large and small. Amongst the most spectacular fossils to be seen in the National Park are Lithostrotion corals. Their intricate internal detail is often beautifully preserved.”
Half a kilometre due south is where the wonderful Nant Llech, a very import river in my work, meets the Tawe that runs down to the coast 20 miles away at Swansea. Further up stream is Henrhyd Falls.
Petrified Stigmaria – Lepidodendron (Scale Trees) Root structure. This tree went extinct about 250 million years ago, many of them decomposing into coal and oil.
Walking the Llech’s bed when the water was very low a few summers ago I started finding and collecting petrified wood and other fossils. This fabulous one is in a big boulder. It feels incredibly lucky to see fossils that, as the river rages, will be washed down stream and might never be seen again.

A young Mare’s Tail next to it’s petrified relative that I found near-by.


Indefenceofplants.com: “As atmospheric CO2 levels plummeted and continents continued to shift, the climate was growing more and more seasonal. This was bad news for the scale trees. All evidence suggests that they were not capable of keeping up with the changes that they themselves had a big part in bringing about. By the end of the Carboniferous, Earth had dipped into an ice age. Earth’s new climate regime appeared to be too much for the scale trees to handle and they were driven to extinction. The world they left behind was primed and ready for new players. The Permian would see a whole new set of plants take over the land and would set the stage for even more terrestrial life to explode onto the scene.
It is amazing to think that we owe much of our industrialised society to scale trees whose leaves captured CO2 and turned it into usable carbon so many millions of years ago. It seems oddly fitting that, thanks to us, scale trees are once again changing Earth’s climate. As we continue to pump Carboniferous CO2 into our atmosphere, one must stop to ask themselves which dominant organisms are most at risk from all of this recent climate change? “
There are lots of Ash trees along this gorge and most have reticently died from Ash Die-back. There are log jams all along the river and landslips revealing fossils and petrified wood from the mass extinction event millions of years ago. The shiny black fossils are very nearly coal. The geology changes just enough only a mile away that coal did form.
The wet meadow behind Osprey Studios sculpture garden on our side of Cribarth, The Sleeping Giant Mountain . The hedgehog hotel is here too and hedgehogs enter the garden under the gate.

So the earth has changed drastically many times. You feel close to that here in the Brecon Beacons. It has all lead to the beautiful natural world that we know now and that we thought we could control and keep as ours…
This new, massive Climate Change and mass extinction is happening with devastating speed and we understand it: there is no way to sugar-coat it, it is our doing. We can predict what course it is likely to take and plan…
Humans are not innately destructive. Like many cooperative species that live in communities we are very busy. VERY busy…And that busyness can be turned towards cleaning up a lot of this mess.
Will our entirely justified grief, guilt and anger eclipse the beauty, joy and wonder that is still here feeding and sustaining us? Will despair fracture our communities and render everyone helpless and vulnerable? Except for those few profiteers who don’t or can’t care?
Believing we are a toxic force ruining everything we touch is a great excuse to do nothing. But we owe our fellows in the natural world better than that.
Leviathan II, 2015, 53cm H x 79cm L x 36cm D, ceramic.
Watching and re-watching geologist and fabulous educator Dr Iain Stewart‘s programs has helped me get my head around it and that lead to the ongoing Throwdown at the Hoedown Series which has just reached one of those turning points and I have been unsure what comes next. The discussion lead to this:
Eleanor Greenwood (who takes some of the most incredible photographs of this area which she knows extremely well): “My final thing that I wanted to say is that we are coming full circle back to the realisation that we are all nature. Our thinking that we are separate has hurt us in more ways than we realise. Your work is a big clear pointer back to that unity. There is sacredness and magic everywhere and you manifest it. I really enjoyed this eve and thank you for making me see climate change in a different light.”
Flabbergasted/very grateful me: “You are exactly right! And I think you have pinpointed the missing piece that I couldn’t see; the spheres, for want of a better term, are reaching out to us, taking forms we can relate to, but what are they saying? That!! Perhaps it’s just that…return to us while you still can….”
Gardens so often bring us together for the conversations that make all the difference.
Guardian of the Biosphere. The interior of this sculpture has spaces for wild-life to live.
Developing my garden over 11 years from a plain lawn with some old, hard features like the cement paths, patio and the deteriorating wooden stable has also changed my thinking enormously. I first put in the lupines and flowers you can see below and it was beautiful! No-one was more delighted and impressed than the slugs from the meadow at the end of the garden. After one terrible battle with them I saw this was not the fight I was willing to take on.
Joining forces with the rest of nature we can share the challenges of Climate Change. You can grow food to share with the other people in your community of wildlife and human neighbours, right down to those in the soil. The garden here is now full of fruit trees, bushes, a variety of strawberries, local wild flowers (slug-proof, bee/bug friendly, beautiful) and cultivated plants that can co-exist happily. Most of the grass has gone and now there is flowering low ground-cover, like cranberries.
There are lots of bird-feeders. And compost bins. You start feel like part of the solution and bit less like part of the problem. Individually we can’t stop the change. But we can make amends as best as we can and ride the wave with grace.
All of nature has always had those who’s role is taking risks; trying out new habitats or times to flower, grow, mate or migrate. It seems very fair that we should make safe spaces for them and help with food and shelter if we can. Forestry Studies have found trees have been migrating in new directions for 50 years. One of my blueberries put out a few flowers this autumn, testing the chances…
This beautiful Acer was a special present to my self for being unexpectedly brave during one of those events that sharpen one’s appreciation of life. Our gardens can become a record of what matters most to us. This tree then taught me about choosing the right spot and not being afraid or reluctant to move unhappy plants. Or to give unusual plants a chance to make their home here.
Here’s a fabulous bit of drama and a tribute to the tropical past of this land. (And to mine: my eldest was born in Malaysia.) And a hint of the future? Changes in the Gulf Stream and other currents are happening now and it’s not clear what the implications are for the western UK. Right now it’s amazing that such a plant will grow here. (I transplanted the Torbay Palm across the garden from a hanging basket thinking it was a grass! It’s 6 metres high now and growing fast!) The interaction with the wild flowers is beautiful : this palm provides support and shelter all year round to a very long-stemmed wild flower that all sorts of insects adore on the edge of the pond. Gardening gets you looking to the future. Slow growing, long lived plants expect to face challenges and can be extraordinarily adaptable which is very inspiring.
Across the meadow at the end of the garden you can see the stand of huge Ash trees on the lower slope of Cribarth that have succumbed to Ash Die-Back. They have started to fall causing a landslip on the edge of a mountain stream and creating a beautiful new waterfall. After heavy rains the water has chosen a new route leading right to where a drainage ditch passes our gate and giving our patch a new shallow pond which fills with tadpoles and sustains other creatures. A few miles east another group of Ash are being watched because they seem to be immune to Die-back.
The movement of water is absolutely key.
This shady corner is full of wild life. All the sculpture plinths are hollow and provide homes for all sorts of people. The ground is always damp and often very wet. Just behind the sculpture is an apple, a pear and some blueberries bushes planted close together like I’ve seen in the woods by the river. They didn’t look too happy at first but a few years on they are taking off and I’m assuming that is because they have befriended each other underground. I had read that if you need a continuous supply over the season rather than big crops then close, varied planting is a good idea. Raspberries love this spot so I weed them out occasionally. A variety of cranberry plants have definitely taken and are quietly spreading among strawberries and various wild ground cover which I clear back sometimes to favour the cranberries but I get the impression they like the company. Everything seems happier with lots of other plants around them. Even my house plants do way better in mixed pots.
Anything cleared out of or from the edge of the pond is left on the side for a few days or tucked into the near-by bed so creepy crawlies can get back to the water.

We started the garden when we moved here in October 2010 with beds marked out with old carpet from the house left over winter and the pond put in the following spring, as recommended. I was so proud watching my sons dig it and it gave me some insight into the ground: 60cms of lovely dark soil down and then clay and big stones. We put in a good, flexible liner and two oxygenator plants and mini water lily. In no time at all it was full of life. Lots of newts, frogs, toads, dragon flies, water-snails (how?!), all sorts. Between them, the hedgehogs, birds and the huge predatory slugs the plant eating slug numbers have begun to balance to the point where the invaluable work they do for the soil offsets limiting what I can plant. Just like they promise on Gardener’s World.
Rae Gervis is an expert gardener growing extraordinary vegetables at Ty Mawr near Brecon. Every week you can order seasonal vegetables from them. Rae had no trouble persuading me not to dig my soil. But I hadn’t expected the results to be so good.
Rae explained: “Soil is the foundation of all life so needs to be nurtured. Soil vitality & biodiversity needs to be protected. Worms and other micro & macro-biota distribute air, water & nutrients far more efficiently & effectively than man can through digging. Mulch with any organic material, preferably well rotted. Soil is then insulated & protected from the elements. Slugs are a good food source for many animals including hedgehogs & they do break down organic matter making it available as nutrients in the soil.”
Building and fencing materials tends to involve horrendously un-green production methods. So we use recycled stuff and make things last where ever we can. The old fence enclosing what was a little pony-yard leading out to the meadow is rotting so I’ve woven a cotoneaster around it to replace it with a living fence which is now much higher and covered in berries. I had found the plant in a container in the hot front garden looking small and wretched when we moved in and I had no idea what to do with it. I plonked it in a stony hole and apologised. It has grown so fast!! Weaving it into flowing shapes is extremely fun.
This area is a cabin and patio now. Before it was a stable, before that a fabulous green house. I would love to pave it but it would be daft, wasteful and the layers of history would be lost. The old cement ground is worn and the mosses soften the look of it so I encourage them instead. Same with the rather rigid cement paths and patio by the house.
This area was plain grass and extremely dry. It used to get very hot out here and so did the house. This planting quickly changed that. The fallen leaves and shade have improved the exhausted soil without me having to do a thing.
Evergreens are gorgeous all year and great for the front garden. They support the flowering climbers. And now it’s important to have flowering and/or fruiting plants and ever-green shelter for the creatures that may end up out and confused in mild winter spells.
There are berries at the lower levels, strawberries, raspberries, black currants and gooseberries. Now that it’s moister I might move some of the cranberry’s runners here.
I let all this grow in to see what it would do and I don’t mind admitting I wasn’t expecting it to be so lush! Recently we put in supports and some structure to the look of it.
When it was un-planted the house paint was getting fried and falling off the render. A number of my neighbours were having to replace their blistered render at the time so we decided we had better strip off the old paint and re-do it. In the back was a big Virginia creeper and the old paint under it was in much better condition!
Now the house is cool and comfortable all year round. The soil stays moist and I leave the falling leaves which quickly disappear into the ground thanks to the healthy wild-life. There are toads and lots of birds. Some are even nesting, glad that the street deters predators. I also find the sense of shelter very comforting.
This very heavy, old gate came from the wonderful Theodore Sons And Daughter Reclamation Yard in Bridgend. Stripping and re-painting it took forever but it feels so great when you swing it open.
This is the front patio which I never used before because it was broiling hot. The french doors lead into the Studio where I had to protect sculptures in progress from the heat. Now the vines form a roof and the light falling through it is exquisite. The purple-leafed grape vine stated clearly that it was ornamental and would not fruit but it does! There is jasmine, wisteria, roses, and an ever-green clematis amongst others so it changes and has beautiful scent.
Sweeping regularly keeps the weeds out from between the bricks and gives me a good excuse to go out there and revel in it. There is no joy to be had from herbicides and pesticides.
Gardening with a sense of purpose.
We are coming full circle back to the realisation that we are all nature. Our thinking that we are separate has hurt us in more ways than we realise.
We are being called to turn back to our natural world while we still can.
When all’s said and done it’s about Community.
Sharing with all our fellows, all the neighbours, great and small, whether we like them much or not, because we need each other. A garden reaches out from your home as much as it sets a boundary or shelters it. It creates links and bonds.
Gardening is a gentle, patient, subtle weapon in a battle we are better off for fighting. Our gardens become a record of, and a contribution to, what matters most to us.

Osprey Studios Sculpture Garden is proud to be open by appointment with The National Garden Scheme to raise money for the Nursing charities that were their for us when we needed them.

How To Make A Head; Clay Armatures and building Hollow.

Busts in progress, Aug 2014.
Busts in progress, Aug 2014.

The Head

The key reason making heads is so hard is that the perception (the way we take in our knowledge) that we have built up over our lifetime of what shape the head is, is based around communication and assessing each other. Making a head requires going against what ‘feels’ right and using information we are unlikely to have bothered with before. Portraiture has a system to organise the huge quantity of subtle details. Learning this system will broaden your knowledge, and your access to more knowledge, enormously. That’s why the study of Portraiture and Figurative Sculpture is traditionally the bed-rock of Art.

It is not rocket science and you can do it. The challenge is fascinating and very rewarding.

The Technique

Because clay shrinks as it dries and is floppy when very wet a Clay Armature that will support and  shrink with the form through the drying and the firing is invaluable.

Most techniques for building  hollow have a strong ‘voice’ of their own and will influence the final look of the piece. They can demand that you harden lower sections and are then unable to change them when you later realise they are wrong. This is a real disadvantage irregardless of your skill level. It is better to work solid over a clay armature especially if you are not using a scale-model and hollow out just before finishing touches. It’s not difficult. That technique is detailed here: Working solid and hollowing out.

Or you can use this technique of building outwards from a Clay Armature to make your sculpture hollow.

Clay armature for a bust, aug 2014
Clay armature for a bust, aug 2014
3rd Bust armature in progress, Aug 2014.
3rd Bust armature in progress, Aug 2014.
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in progress, Aug 2014.
in progress, Aug 2014.

Here I chose to leave gaps that show the Armature but of course you don’t have to. The step by step manner of this method and the fact that you work all over the head  in layers from the start  makes it ideally suited to help you organise the huge amount of information in your mind while learning to make Portraits and other Sculpture.

The Workshop

Two people with a creative back-ground but who had never done a head before came to Osprey Studios for a 2 day Workshop designed to give them the practical skills needed to make heads on their own and get 2/3 of the way through a head. Day 1 was The Skull built onto the central support (that I had prepared and allowed to harden 3 days earlier). Day 2 was The Head up to the point before finishing touches. The students both took their heads home to finish. We used the excellent Scarva Crank (ES50) clay.

the leather-hard clay armature for the head
the leather-hard clay armature for the head. It will bear the weight  and be a scaffold for your additions. Some of it will get cut away as the bust becomes leather hard and can support itself.
measuring from your own head with callipers and placing the information on the armature in a way that also reinforces it..
Measure from your own head with callipers and add the information onto the armature. Some of these small, pinched slabs will also reinforce the armature. Start with where the neck emerges from the shoulders, then the chin, then the top of the head to ensure  you will hit a height that will fit in your kiln. Leave some room for error; later you can trim away from the base or add clay there to adjust the height.
I had made the Skull we used as a model previously using the same method.
I had made the Skull we used as a model previously using the same method. We also used photos from the internet and measured on our own and each other’s head. Having a model is expensive and sometimes distracting at this early stage of conquering the basics. This Workshop is designed to show you a method you can repeat at home.
Block out the skull using thin slabs attached to the armature.
Block out the skull using thin slabs attached to the armature. Work your way around the form in ‘layers’; don’t focus on one part for to long. Each part informs the whole and they need to evolve together. Mark the place of the eye-sockets, nose, mouth, chin without getting distracted by their shape. Then these bars of clay will hold up the next layer, etc.
It's surprisingly hard work. Take regular breaks to allow the info to sink in.
It’s surprisingly hard work. Take regular breaks to allow the info to sink in.
Spend plenty of time over the back of the head to ensure the size is correct.
Spend plenty of time over the back of the head to ensure the size is correct.
There will be points when it looks dreadful!
There will be times when it looks dreadful!
And points when it looks guaranteed to be a masterpiece.
And points when it looks guaranteed to be a masterpiece. Both of these phases pass!
Measure everything repeatedly and keep moving forward methodically
Measure everything repeatedly and keep moving forward methodically
Take the Skull up to the stage before finishing touches and allow to go leather-hard.
Take the Skull up to the stage before finishing touches and allow to go leather-hard. We chose to tilt the skulls a bit at this stage so that the Heads would be more expressive.

You can print these skull images to work from and there are 2 work-sheets for you at the end of this post.

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Block out the whole head over the foundation of the Skull.
‘Block out’ the whole head over the foundation of the Skull; Work all around the head in rough, refining the whole form in layers rather than concentrating on one spot then moving to the next. It is crucial that you are willing to remove any part that is wrong, no matter how much time you feel you have spent on it. A beautifully worked eye slightly in the wrong place will ruin the whole. Every minute you spend on this work is building your skill so there is no time wasted.
You will reap the benefits of all the careful measuring you did on the skull.
You will reap the benefits of all the careful measuring you did on the skull. Note that “The Eye” is the area all the way to the edge of that eye-socket not just the bit defined by the eye-lashes. ”The Mouth” starts up inside the nose and goes out toward the cheeks and the chin; it is not just the lips. Subtleties all across that area of muscle and skin over the teeth of the skull will express the mood of this person. Think a range of conflicting emotions and feel the small changes in your own mouth-area. Don’t look in a mirror, just feel them. Do it again in front of a mirror.  “Act” the expression you want your Portrait to have while you are working and you will find it easier to capture it in clay.
Continue measuring repeatedly using callipers and check your modelling by hold a horizontal or vertical stick to it and looking carefully at the shape of the negative space.
Continue measuring repeatedly using callipers and check your modelling by hold a horizontal or vertical stick to it and looking carefully at the shape of the negative space.
Walk away from your work and look in detail at something out the window ; this will 'clear your eye'. Turn and look at the head; what is the first thing you notice? It might be an error you couldn't see when you were up close and immersed in the work. Or it might be that it looks way better than you expected.
Walk away from your work and look in detail at something out of the window; this will ‘clear your eye’. Turn and look at the head; what is the first thing you notice? It might be an error you couldn’t see when you were up close and immersed in the work. Or it might be that it looks way better than you expected.
There are many tricks and techniques for making all the features and U Tube is a treasure trove. Try out different styles to find the one that you like.
There are many tricks and techniques for making all the features and U Tube is a treasure trove. Try out different styles to find the one that you like.
Use a similar modelling style for that hair to avoid that 'Wig' look.
Use the modelling style you used on the rest of the sculpture for the hair to avoid that ‘Wig’ look. As you get nearer to being done the quality of your mark-making as you add clay becomes important. Look at lots of Portraits with Google-Images, choose the look you like best and try out using different tools until you find your own style.
If you think you may have added a thickness over 3cms cut and hollow at the stage before finishing touches.
If you think you may have added a thickness over 3cms cut and hollow at the stage before finishing touches. If not you can fire the head with the armature in situ. Dry very slowly, preferably in a tent of news-paper that will keep off drafts and slow down the evaporation. While it is wrapped up the water from the added clay will migrate into the clay-armature and soften it; you might need to put a temporary support under the chin to stop the head tipping forward until the clay has stiffened up evenly.
Double-check all your measurements and then move into Finishing Touches.
Double-check all your measurements and then move into Finishing Touches. During this stage you are reinforcing this new perception and understanding of the head that is not just about communication but is relevant to portraiture. This will allow you to see more too.
This final stage, especially over the eyes, will take a third of your total work time. A head usually takes 30 hours.
This final stage, especially  the eyes, will take a third of your total work time. A head usually takes 30 hours.
Exactly like learning a musical instrument or a sport, practice will develop the fine-motor skills specific to this difficult task. It is ALL about Practise, good technique, and the right tools and clay. If you add enjoying doing it you will make beautiful Busts full of expression. 'Talent' is a mirage.
Exactly like learning a musical instrument or a sport, practice will develop the fine-motor skills and perception specific to this difficult task. It is ALL about Practise, good technique, and the right tools and clay. If you add ‘enjoying doing it’ you will make beautiful Busts full of expression. ‘Talent’ is a mirage. I revisit figurative work regularly so that my skills don’t slip away.
The measuring frees you up to be expressive with your modelling .
The measuring frees you up to be expressive with your modelling . Your ‘Creative Intuition’ is largely a collection of Skills that have become so ingrained you can take them for granted. They will be inter-woven across your mind, so the deep-set memories of the experience of dancing  at a party, the exhilaration you feel out on the mountain, emotions that have shown on your face, will be part of your Skill. While you are making things music can help you access specific memories; I use particular Albums to re-set the mood each time I return to a sculpture.

A set of good portrait tools will make all the difference. Tiranti’s are famously lovely. Just holding one makes you want to work, they are beautiful. The M Series Hardwood Tools are designed for Portraiture and will fit perfectly to the important, tricky parts of the face. Scarva have a good range of quality tools and the set of fine modelling tools look like they will be nice and the price is very low. I am very pleased with my  metal modelling tools from Amazon.

Choose a clay with plenty of mixed, medium to fine grog (gritty bits). Scarva ES 50 is out-standing.

Mary Cousins finished her head back in her own Studio. She has named her Butterfly.
Mary Cousins finished her head back in her own Studio. She has named her Butterfly.
Butterfly by Mary Cousins
Butterfly by Mary Cousins
Butterfly by Mary Cousins
Butterfly by Mary Cousins
Madam Butterfly by Mary Cousins.
Madam Butterfly by Mary Cousins. Mary makes absolutely lovely, fluid, sensuous porcelain pottery.

Once you have got the hang of this excellent method you can use it to open out the space of a form.

Frame-works for The Wyvern IV and, in the back ground, The Leviathan.
Frame-works for The Wyvern IV and, in the back ground, The Leviathan.

These Armatures or ‘frameworks’ were planned to be very much part of the fractured image. But the ‘corrugation’ and circular holes you can see are strengthening the Armature and would be very suitable to an armature that would ultimately be hidden. Playing around with these Armatures lead the Sculptures in un-anticipated directions.

The Wyvern and The Leviathan. in progress, Sept 2014.
The Wyvern and The Leviathan. in progress, Sept 2014.

Here are some work-sheets you can print off and use.

Scull Work-sheet, Rebecca Buck.
Skull Work-sheet, Rebecca Buck.
Portrait/clay armature Work-sheet. Rebecca Buck.
Portrait/clay armature Work-sheet. Rebecca Buck.
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A good one from google images: 

In February 2016 we ran this Workshop again but on Day 2 we played more freely. We still covered the essentials. I’ll add Workshop photos over time because you will find looking at how other people have handled it helpful and the variety inspiring.

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The group’s skulls after Day 1.
Sheila Mone
Sheila Mone
Phil Hughes
Phil Hughes
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Pi, my Studio Manager.
Pi, my Studio Manager.
Phil Hughes and Martine Wills.
Phil Hughes  making his bust into a  poignant Warrior . And Martine Wills.
Sheila Mone
Sheila Mone
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Martine Wills
Martine Wills
Sheila Mone
Sheila Mone , leaving a lot of bust section open using expressive curves.
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward took her piece into the surreal with fantastic effect.

September 2016, I ran a Masterclass with the wonderful North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio. Taz Pollard and Nicola Crocker run an excellent Studio making their own work and giving very popular classes in pottery and hand-building. They have created a lovely, business- like space with an open, welcoming atmosphere that leads everyone into making their best work. They will be running Masterclasses, workshops and classes regularly, in all aspects of ceramics and it was a pleasure to work with them. We packed a massive amount of work into one day and group worked their butts off. Taz and Nicola kept everyone afloat with delicious, home-made food, drinks and humour.

Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio

Art teacher Sheila Mone and her lovely, forward looking department head Matt Peake, invited me to Monmouth School to work with their A Level students. The school has a set of very handsome studios and the quality student work reveals that this Art Department understands the important contribution and highly transferable skill set that art brings to a pupil.

We had 12 hours over 2 days and the work would be completed over the rest of the following weeks. The frameworks were beautifully made a few days in advance and left to stiffen. Day 1 was the skull with full measuring and day 2 was open with the only condition being that the eyes/mouth/nose placements were maintained. Some had photos to work from and I was pleased at the care and thought these students had put into their interpretation, bringing in themes and messages. Most of them had done very little clay work before! So it was a leap into the deep-end and they achieved a fantastic amount through intensive hard work. Wonderful! I went home on cloud nine!

Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Sheila Mone talking through ideas with this student while the others listen in and collect information. These guys have great study skills.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Tony blocking out the skull in preparation for a portrait of Donald Trump.
With both of these heads the pupils used photos, aimed for a likeness. Setting boundaries like this will really help you to progress. The head in the back then went on to be beautifully stylised. The excellent head in front is based on Mohammed Ali. You can feel the strength and dignity of the man.
Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios
Robert moving forward from blocking out the skull to setting the key high points on the bones on the right plain.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Wilfred tidying the frame in preparation for developing the face. Because time was tight we left out the back of the head. This makes developing the head more difficult and I don’t recommend it. But handled stylishly it can look great.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. An excellent level of concentration.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. After giving general instruction I go one-to-one as much as possible. I aim to guide each student towards their own ‘voice’ in building, theme, and modelling style.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Wilfred has a good selection of views of his model . A selection of images from different angles is invaluable.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Really difficult to pull off but a great  challenge is 1/2 skull 1/2 face. This brave student had a steady, methodical approach that is ideal in portraiture.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. This wonderful student had already done a very good head after looking through this post so this time he chose to work double the size.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Harry had already done a very good head after looking through this post. And he has used clay on large pieces. So this time he chose to work double the size. Take your measurements and use a ruler to double them. Do not attempt to do it by eye. Larger than life heads carry an immediate power. It’s a great scale if you have a message to convey.
Harry’s piece just fits in the kiln!
Harry’s next head. Fantastic work on the very difficult area of the shoulders/base. 
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. The dark, haunting eyes in the photo were done by this very skilled student, Robert, by cutting through and harnessing the dark interior of the head. Really effective and evocative.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Rhianna had a powerful image of an elderly homeless man and wanted to portray his story. She left the eyes empty but cut smaller holes through the back of the head behind the eye-level telling an inner, nearly hidden narrative.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. The art department assistant, Kate Owens, beautiful use of clay.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. The art department assistant, Kate Owens, beautiful use of clay.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Kate Owens.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Kate Owens.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Harry’s theme here is a simple “contrast hard geometric form with organic form.” The size, the forward unyielding gaze, the beautiful, enchanting modelling style, the flow of the geometric inner form and the places where it mimics the natural structure of a head evoke a mysterious presence.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Sheila Mone helped her students and worked on her own fascinating bust.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Excellent modelling skills and empathetic sensitivity are giving this moving image sculptural form.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. This a stylish, contemporary design for the base. It is very difficult to handle the truncated aspects of the bust. There are various ‘classic’ motifs that work really well but it’s very refreshing to see a new approach. This piece was then taken further to become this beautifully
The piece above was then taken further to become this beautifully defined character.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. A few of the guys had to leave early including the student doing a superb job of Mohamed Ali using a beautiful, sophisticated modelling technique. The head of Donald Trump is being handled with great skill and thoughtfulness by another student. In each case they are aiming to capture the inner life of the man not just his shell. Of course this is very difficult but the challenge is engrossing and very satisfying and having a particular direction will get you through the many intimidating intersections on the road to a portrait. Art department Head Matt Peake worked alongside his students on the wonderful, humorous self portrait you can see front, right of this photo. The wide variety of approaches were a credit to the Art Department and the wider school.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.

How To Make A Head; Clay Armatures and building Hollow.

Busts in progress, Aug 2014.
Busts in progress, Aug 2014.

The Head

The key reason making heads is so hard is that the perception (the way we take in our knowledge) that we have built up over our lifetime of what shape the head is, is based around communication and assessing each other. Making a head requires going against what ‘feels’ right and using information we are unlikely to have bothered with before. Portraiture has a system to organise the huge quantity of subtle details. Learning this system will broaden your knowledge, and your access to more knowledge, enormously. That’s why the study of Portraiture and Figurative Sculpture is traditionally the bed-rock of Art.

It is not rocket science and you can do it. The challenge is fascinating and very rewarding.

The Technique

Because clay shrinks as it dries and is floppy when very wet a Clay Armature that will support and  shrink with the form through the drying and the firing is invaluable.

Most techniques for building  hollow have a strong ‘voice’ of their own and will influence the final look of the piece. They can demand that you harden lower sections and are then unable to change them when you later realise they are wrong. This is a real disadvantage irregardless of your skill level. It is better to work solid over a clay armature especially if you are not using a scale-model and hollow out just before finishing touches. It’s not difficult. That technique is detailed here: Working solid and hollowing out.

Or you can use this technique of building outwards from a Clay Armature to make your sculpture hollow.

Clay armature for a bust, aug 2014
Clay armature for a bust, aug 2014
3rd Bust armature in progress, Aug 2014.
3rd Bust armature in progress, Aug 2014.
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in progress, Aug 2014.
in progress, Aug 2014.

Here I chose to leave gaps that show the Armature but of course you don’t have to. The step by step manner of this method and the fact that you work all over the head  in layers from the start  makes it ideally suited to help you organise the huge amount of information in your mind while learning to make Portraits and other Sculpture.

The Workshop

Two people with a creative back-ground but who had never done a head before came to Osprey Studios for a 2 day Workshop designed to give them the practical skills needed to make heads on their own and get 2/3 of the way through a head. Day 1 was The Skull built onto the central support (that I had prepared and allowed to harden 3 days earlier). Day 2 was The Head up to the point before finishing touches. The students both took their heads home to finish. We used the excellent Scarva Crank (ES50) clay.

the leather-hard clay armature for the head
the leather-hard clay armature for the head. It will bear the weight  and be a scaffold for your additions. Some of it will get cut away as the bust becomes leather hard and can support itself.
measuring from your own head with callipers and placing the information on the armature in a way that also reinforces it..
Measure from your own head with callipers and add the information onto the armature. Some of these small, pinched slabs will also reinforce the armature. Start with where the neck emerges from the shoulders, then the chin, then the top of the head to ensure  you will hit a height that will fit in your kiln. Leave some room for error; later you can trim away from the base or add clay there to adjust the height.
I had made the Skull we used as a model previously using the same method.
I had made the Skull we used as a model previously using the same method. We also used photos from the internet and measured on our own and each other’s head. Having a model is expensive and sometimes distracting at this early stage of conquering the basics. This Workshop is designed to show you a method you can repeat at home.
Block out the skull using thin slabs attached to the armature.
Block out the skull using thin slabs attached to the armature. Work your way around the form in ‘layers’; don’t focus on one part for to long. Each part informs the whole and they need to evolve together. Mark the place of the eye-sockets, nose, mouth, chin without getting distracted by their shape. Then these bars of clay will hold up the next layer, etc.
It's surprisingly hard work. Take regular breaks to allow the info to sink in.
It’s surprisingly hard work. Take regular breaks to allow the info to sink in.
Spend plenty of time over the back of the head to ensure the size is correct.
Spend plenty of time over the back of the head to ensure the size is correct.
There will be points when it looks dreadful!
There will be times when it looks dreadful!
And points when it looks guaranteed to be a masterpiece.
And points when it looks guaranteed to be a masterpiece. Both of these phases pass!
Measure everything repeatedly and keep moving forward methodically
Measure everything repeatedly and keep moving forward methodically
Take the Skull up to the stage before finishing touches and allow to go leather-hard.
Take the Skull up to the stage before finishing touches and allow to go leather-hard. We chose to tilt the skulls a bit at this stage so that the Heads would be more expressive.

You can print these skull images to work from and there are 2 work-sheets for you at the end of this post.

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Block out the whole head over the foundation of the Skull.
‘Block out’ the whole head over the foundation of the Skull; Work all around the head in rough, refining the whole form in layers rather than concentrating on one spot then moving to the next. It is crucial that you are willing to remove any part that is wrong, no matter how much time you feel you have spent on it. A beautifully worked eye slightly in the wrong place will ruin the whole. Every minute you spend on this work is building your skill so there is no time wasted.
You will reap the benefits of all the careful measuring you did on the skull.
You will reap the benefits of all the careful measuring you did on the skull. Note that “The Eye” is the area all the way to the edge of that eye-socket not just the bit defined by the eye-lashes. ”The Mouth” starts up inside the nose and goes out toward the cheeks and the chin; it is not just the lips. Subtleties all across that area of muscle and skin over the teeth of the skull will express the mood of this person. Think a range of conflicting emotions and feel the small changes in your own mouth-area. Don’t look in a mirror, just feel them. Do it again in front of a mirror.  “Act” the expression you want your Portrait to have while you are working and you will find it easier to capture it in clay.
Continue measuring repeatedly using callipers and check your modelling by hold a horizontal or vertical stick to it and looking carefully at the shape of the negative space.
Continue measuring repeatedly using callipers and check your modelling by hold a horizontal or vertical stick to it and looking carefully at the shape of the negative space.
Walk away from your work and look in detail at something out the window ; this will 'clear your eye'. Turn and look at the head; what is the first thing you notice? It might be an error you couldn't see when you were up close and immersed in the work. Or it might be that it looks way better than you expected.
Walk away from your work and look in detail at something out of the window; this will ‘clear your eye’. Turn and look at the head; what is the first thing you notice? It might be an error you couldn’t see when you were up close and immersed in the work. Or it might be that it looks way better than you expected.
There are many tricks and techniques for making all the features and U Tube is a treasure trove. Try out different styles to find the one that you like.
There are many tricks and techniques for making all the features and U Tube is a treasure trove. Try out different styles to find the one that you like.
Use a similar modelling style for that hair to avoid that 'Wig' look.
Use the modelling style you used on the rest of the sculpture for the hair to avoid that ‘Wig’ look. As you get nearer to being done the quality of your mark-making as you add clay becomes important. Look at lots of Portraits with Google-Images, choose the look you like best and try out using different tools until you find your own style.
If you think you may have added a thickness over 3cms cut and hollow at the stage before finishing touches.
If you think you may have added a thickness over 3cms cut and hollow at the stage before finishing touches. If not you can fire the head with the armature in situ. Dry very slowly, preferably in a tent of news-paper that will keep off drafts and slow down the evaporation. While it is wrapped up the water from the added clay will migrate into the clay-armature and soften it; you might need to put a temporary support under the chin to stop the head tipping forward until the clay has stiffened up evenly.
Double-check all your measurements and then move into Finishing Touches.
Double-check all your measurements and then move into Finishing Touches. During this stage you are reinforcing this new perception and understanding of the head that is not just about communication but is relevant to portraiture. This will allow you to see more too.
This final stage, especially over the eyes, will take a third of your total work time. A head usually takes 30 hours.
This final stage, especially  the eyes, will take a third of your total work time. A head usually takes 30 hours.
Exactly like learning a musical instrument or a sport, practice will develop the fine-motor skills specific to this difficult task. It is ALL about Practise, good technique, and the right tools and clay. If you add enjoying doing it you will make beautiful Busts full of expression. 'Talent' is a mirage.
Exactly like learning a musical instrument or a sport, practice will develop the fine-motor skills and perception specific to this difficult task. It is ALL about Practise, good technique, and the right tools and clay. If you add ‘enjoying doing it’ you will make beautiful Busts full of expression. ‘Talent’ is a mirage. I revisit figurative work regularly so that my skills don’t slip away.
The measuring frees you up to be expressive with your modelling .
The measuring frees you up to be expressive with your modelling . Your ‘Creative Intuition’ is largely a collection of Skills that have become so ingrained you can take them for granted. They will be inter-woven across your mind, so the deep-set memories of the experience of dancing  at a party, the exhilaration you feel out on the mountain, emotions that have shown on your face, will be part of your Skill. While you are making things music can help you access specific memories; I use particular Albums to re-set the mood each time I return to a sculpture.

A set of good portrait tools will make all the difference. Tiranti’s are famously lovely. Just holding one makes you want to work, they are beautiful. The M Series Hardwood Tools are designed for Portraiture and will fit perfectly to the important, tricky parts of the face. Scarva have a good range of quality tools and the set of fine modelling tools look like they will be nice and the price is very low. I am very pleased with my  metal modelling tools from Amazon.

Choose a clay with plenty of mixed, medium to fine grog (gritty bits). Scarva ES 50 is out-standing.

Mary Cousins finished her head back in her own Studio. She has named her Butterfly.
Mary Cousins finished her head back in her own Studio. She has named her Butterfly.
Butterfly by Mary Cousins
Butterfly by Mary Cousins
Butterfly by Mary Cousins
Butterfly by Mary Cousins
Madam Butterfly by Mary Cousins.
Madam Butterfly by Mary Cousins. Mary makes absolutely lovely, fluid, sensuous porcelain pottery.

Once you have got the hang of this excellent method you can use it to open out the space of a form.

Frame-works for The Wyvern IV and, in the back ground, The Leviathan.
Frame-works for The Wyvern IV and, in the back ground, The Leviathan.

These Armatures or ‘frameworks’ were planned to be very much part of the fractured image. But the ‘corrugation’ and circular holes you can see are strengthening the Armature and would be very suitable to an armature that would ultimately be hidden. Playing around with these Armatures lead the Sculptures in un-anticipated directions.

The Wyvern and The Leviathan. in progress, Sept 2014.
The Wyvern and The Leviathan. in progress, Sept 2014.

Here are some work-sheets you can print off and use.

Scull Work-sheet, Rebecca Buck.
Skull Work-sheet, Rebecca Buck.
Portrait/clay armature Work-sheet. Rebecca Buck.
Portrait/clay armature Work-sheet. Rebecca Buck.
screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-21-47-48

A good one from google images: 

In February 2016 we ran this Workshop again but on Day 2 we played more freely. We still covered the essentials. I’ll add Workshop photos over time because you will find looking at how other people have handled it helpful and the variety inspiring.

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The group’s skulls after Day 1.
Sheila Mone
Sheila Mone
Phil Hughes
Phil Hughes
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Pi, my Studio Manager.
Pi, my Studio Manager.
Phil Hughes and Martine Wills.
Phil Hughes  making his bust into a  poignant Warrior . And Martine Wills.
Sheila Mone
Sheila Mone
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Martine Wills
Martine Wills
Sheila Mone
Sheila Mone , leaving a lot of bust section open using expressive curves.
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward
Kay Milward took her piece into the surreal with fantastic effect.

September 2016, I ran a Masterclass with the wonderful North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio. Taz Pollard and Nicola Crocker run an excellent Studio making their own work and giving very popular classes in pottery and hand-building. They have created a lovely, business- like space with an open, welcoming atmosphere that leads everyone into making their best work. They will be running Masterclasses, workshops and classes regularly, in all aspects of ceramics and it was a pleasure to work with them. We packed a massive amount of work into one day and group worked their butts off. Taz and Nicola kept everyone afloat with delicious, home-made food, drinks and humour.

Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
Masterclass with Rebecca Buck, North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio
North Devon Ceramics Academy & Studio

Art teacher Sheila Mone and her lovely, forward looking department head Matt Peake, invited me to Monmouth School to work with their A Level students. The school has a set of very handsome studios and the quality student work reveals that this Art Department understands the important contribution and highly transferable skill set that art brings to a pupil.

We had 12 hours over 2 days and the work would be completed over the rest of the following weeks. The frameworks were beautifully made a few days in advance and left to stiffen. Day 1 was the skull with full measuring and day 2 was open with the only condition being that the eyes/mouth/nose placements were maintained. Some had photos to work from and I was pleased at the care and thought these students had put into their interpretation, bringing in themes and messages. Most of them had done very little clay work before! So it was a leap into the deep-end and they achieved a fantastic amount through intensive hard work. Wonderful! I went home on cloud nine!

Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Sheila Mone talking through ideas with this student while the others listen in and collect information. These guys have great study skills.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Tony blocking out the skull in preparation for a portrait of Donald Trump.
With both of these heads the pupils used photos, aimed for a likeness. Setting boundaries like this will really help you to progress. The head in the back then went on to be beautifully stylised. The excellent head in front is based on Mohammed Ali. You can feel the strength and dignity of the man.
Rebecca Buck Osprey Studios
Robert moving forward from blocking out the skull to setting the key high points on the bones on the right plain.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Wilfred tidying the frame in preparation for developing the face. Because time was tight we left out the back of the head. This makes developing the head more difficult and I don’t recommend it. But handled stylishly it can look great.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. An excellent level of concentration.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. After giving general instruction I go one-to-one as much as possible. I aim to guide each student towards their own ‘voice’ in building, theme, and modelling style.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Wilfred has a good selection of views of his model . A selection of images from different angles is invaluable.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Really difficult to pull off but a great  challenge is 1/2 skull 1/2 face. This brave student had a steady, methodical approach that is ideal in portraiture.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. This wonderful student had already done a very good head after looking through this post so this time he chose to work double the size.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Harry had already done a very good head after looking through this post. And he has used clay on large pieces. So this time he chose to work double the size. Take your measurements and use a ruler to double them. Do not attempt to do it by eye. Larger than life heads carry an immediate power. It’s a great scale if you have a message to convey.
Harry’s piece just fits in the kiln!
Harry’s next head. Fantastic work on the very difficult area of the shoulders/base. 
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. The dark, haunting eyes in the photo were done by this very skilled student, Robert, by cutting through and harnessing the dark interior of the head. Really effective and evocative.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Rhianna had a powerful image of an elderly homeless man and wanted to portray his story. She left the eyes empty but cut smaller holes through the back of the head behind the eye-level telling an inner, nearly hidden narrative.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. The art department assistant, Kate Owens, beautiful use of clay.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. The art department assistant, Kate Owens, beautiful use of clay.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Kate Owens.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Kate Owens.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Harry’s theme here is a simple “contrast hard geometric form with organic form.” The size, the forward unyielding gaze, the beautiful, enchanting modelling style, the flow of the geometric inner form and the places where it mimics the natural structure of a head evoke a mysterious presence.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Sheila Mone helped her students and worked on her own fascinating bust.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. Excellent modelling skills and empathetic sensitivity are giving this moving image sculptural form.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. This a stylish, contemporary design for the base. It is very difficult to handle the truncated aspects of the bust. There are various ‘classic’ motifs that work really well but it’s very refreshing to see a new approach. This piece was then taken further to become this beautifully
The piece above was then taken further to become this beautifully defined character.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck. A few of the guys had to leave early including the student doing a superb job of Mohamed Ali using a beautiful, sophisticated modelling technique. The head of Donald Trump is being handled with great skill and thoughtfulness by another student. In each case they are aiming to capture the inner life of the man not just his shell. Of course this is very difficult but the challenge is engrossing and very satisfying and having a particular direction will get you through the many intimidating intersections on the road to a portrait. Art department Head Matt Peake worked alongside his students on the wonderful, humorous self portrait you can see front, right of this photo. The wide variety of approaches were a credit to the Art Department and the wider school.
Monmouth School A level students 2 day Workshop with Rebecca Buck.

Making the Remember and Rebuild Sculpture for Saxon Hall, Hereford.

Remember and Rebuild Sculpture for Saxon Hall, Hereford, in progress.

Planning a Public Sculpture.

This is post is an ongoing diary for this excellent Big Skill Community Project to share with everyone involved. And I hope it will be useful and interesting to anyone planning similar projects. I will add to it over the next 6 months.

Building big sculptures is intence, complicated, a lot of labour, a bit of a nightmare and exciting! This Memorial to everyone affected by the pandemic will all be made in clay, including the armature, fired in sections and then rebuilt on site with permenant construction materials.

Saxon Hall Community Centre

The amazing Trevor Stringer, Chairman and the driving force behind The Big Skill, at Saxon Hall marking the first site we considered for the Standing Up For Peace sculpture that welcomed people as they arrived and screened a bench. Now we have a site that compliments rather than interupting the stunning, established perrenial planting and will enhance the lovely, young community orchard.

Here is the project description and the sculpture’s ‘Brief’ which we put together in workshops over the last year. All kinds of lovely people are involved. I took mountains of notes and we had some increadable, intence conversations that lead us to this point in February 2021 where we feel we are ready to make our monument to an extraordinary time in our history.

1/11/2020
Saxon Hall
From Standing Up For Peace to Remember and Rebuild.
At the beginning of this project, in 2019, our society was brittle with division. Inspired by the
beautiful gardens of Saxon Hall we had the idea of a monument to community with ‘Standing Up
For Peace’ as a theme and enjoyable, creative workshops with The Accessible Craft Group and
other Makers at The Big Skill to bring local people together to focus on all the many positives
around us in Hereford.

This was going well, we had great turn out and a lovely, friendly, open atmosphere fostered by the
excellent facilities of Saxon Hall.

Then Covid19 stepped in… Lockdown gave us a shared experience that cast a harsh light on our
society and lead us to question what really made us safe, happy and productive.
Many people stepped up to volunteer and help ensure those around them were safe and well. Key
workers were acknowledged and appreciated for the great work they do for us all and the bravery
they showed in the fearful, dangerous situation.
The work we had already done for Standing Up For Peace made an ideal foundation for much
harder, more intensely focussed questions. And our amazing participants were really willing share
their fresh, new perspective and their very personal experiences.
So we have switched our focus onto the Pandemic experiences that have affected every aspect of
our society and daily lives. The Workshops planning the sculpture, sharing skills and getting people
together to have relaxed, inclusive conversations about these hugely challenging, difficult months
over crafts, cake and coffee have been re-named ‘Remember and Rebuild’.
Camera in the Community is proving to be a wonderful way to capture moving stories told in
person with genuine warmth and humour.
We have been taking notes, collecting images and ideas and now have a scale model and a new
budget for a sculpture that can honour this extraordinary time in our history, a painful year full of
loss, grief, fear and hardship where people from all walks of life have shown kindness, bravery and
generosity.
What Community Centres are all about really stands out at times of crisis. Fun and useful activities
build the ties that bind a community together so that when the doubt and fear in a crisis can seem
insurmountable the Community Center is a safe, trustworthy place where those able to give can join
with those in need and share the work that will rebuild the community to be able to cope in new
ways.
Out of a swirling confusion of contradictory emotions patterns have begun to clarify and form
routes that unite and strengthen the community.
On the Sculpture those routes can be followed, in an interwoven loop, up from the ground within
the 2 meter circle and around the guardian forms who make sense of the swirl and direct the flow in
and back out of the safe space between them at the centre of the circle.

Second draft of Remember and Rebuild. The base is the 2metre wide ‘distancing circle’ that has become iconic during the pandemic. There will be a swirlling mosaic of hand-made tiles set into it. The figure is just for scale.
Key ideas collected at Workshops:
-‘The space we hold inside is equal in importance to the space outside.’
-Spiralling.
-Two caring hands.
-A kind embrace, hug.

  • Reciprocity: The Ties That Bind.
    -Guardians: angels and also the SAS Soldiers (*mark Sea King Disaster, Falklands War in carving)
    uncompromising heroes with relentless courage who stepped up to work, regardless of the risk, to
    care for others. Key Workers. Wishing a for a ‘force’ to protect loved ones.
  • Inspired by Heroes. (talked about a lot and redefined by Lockdown)
  • Saxon Hall builds on the tradition of it’s Military heritage: offering the opportunity to connect and
    become part of the strength that makes resilience.
    -Two figures: Love and Courage.
  • Community in Nature.
    -The Rotherwas Ribbon, a winding path, marked this area as significant to ancient people.
    -Tie the sculpture in to the wonderful mosaics already in the garden. And to the Community
    Orchard, Herb Bed, the beautiful flower bed and other features on the site
  • a focus on sharing, making connections to strengthen the Community for this new era.
  • Building on what we learnt from Lockdown.
    -Two figures interacting: Working together. The need for connection is the biggest driving force in
    our lives- with people, pets, gardens. Creativity is all about that:-reaching inwards and outwards;
    trying to say what we mean, to connect by explaining what we are/see/can do/can offer.
  • The 2 metre circle encloses and separates, leaving us with ourselves.
  • 2 metre circle: protect, contain, shield, separate, personal space, boundaries, limit, barrier,
    reaching out, Pushing away, en-circled.
  • The Natural World: being safer out in the fresh air with Nature.
  • 2 figures facing each other and creating a space that has a flow between them and is empowering
    to stand in.
    Surface of sculpture and the mosaic tiles.
    Mosaic:
  • Katey Lyons and I will custom-make stamps to make it easy to join in at fun activity for all ages at
    a range of venues.
  • Include the type of tiles used in the other mosaics in the garden.
  • Carving:
    Designs/drawings needed:
  • the famous Turnip Worship that supports Hereford United.(!)
  • Frank Oz, voice of Fozzy Bear, the Cookie Monster and Yoda.
  • David Garrick, famous Shakespearian actor, 17C
  • First draft of Remember and Rebuild. We kept a lot of the elements but felt these 2 figures felt too much like a male/female human couple which set a limited narrative. We wanted something deeper, something bigger than us. And two tall, seperate figures would cause a lot of expence in deeper foundations to make them stable. We wanted as much of the budget to go on the art-work and community participation as possible. Joining the figures expressed more about community and importance of friends and team work. And it made the total sculpture self supporting, stronger and provided the wonderful interactive interior space and all the surface area in there for carving. At this time we still hoped to be a lot of face to face workshops where local people would do carved panels to be inserted into the sculpture build. Now, in February 2021, a lot of that input is being directed at the tiles for the base and I have more time to copy people’s ideas onto the sculpture surface.
  • Further research:
  • a visit to New Civic Museum in the Town Hall for Hereford local history.
  • Why the name ‘Saxon Hall’?
  • Tim Hoverd (Howerd?), Council Archaeologist for information about The Rotherwas Ribbon/
    Dineor Serpent that inspired the sculpture’s form.
    Collecting via group, social media (to be carved on surface/tiles):
  • As many of these ideas/themes as possible will be carved onto the sculpture’s surface
    Poems:
    God’s Garden Poem.
    The kiss of the sun for pardon.
    The song of the bird for mirth.
    One is nearer God’s
    Heart in the garden
    Than anywhere else on earth.

    Jokes: There is a lot of laughs around about everything! But when we get together most of the talk is focussed on kindness and trying to make sence of it all…
    Thoughts:
  • it’s surreal, like a plot from a film
  • -worry: about family, the lack of work and money
  • disbelief-denial
  • parallel universe- everything is the same yet totally different
  • no deadlines or alarm clocks, but everything you try and do needs planning now, even just going to the shop.
  • acceptance
  • enjoying the stillness and peace
  • you realise you can’t have it all or be it all: find a niche you can fill.
  • stopped making art and sat in the garden…processing it all, taking it in
  • Nice for the main earner to be spending time with the kids.
  • focussed on growing veg and salad
  • missing friends and family
  • all the routines fell apart
  • will the kids ever recover?
  • enjoying time within our bubble
  • society at once in fear yet working together
  • walking, so much walking!
  • learning to relax
  • Masks and not being allowed to touch is making us very separate from our bodies.
  • it’s a labyrinth
  • seeking a sense of progression
  • you think you are on track but alongside you is chaos, areas where you can’t make decisions any
    more..
  • a swirling confusion of contradictory emotions
  • Key Workers like Nurses don’t get to have a 2 metre circle like the rest of us.
  • thank goodness for our pets.
  • the garden has saved me
  • Being shut in at home can bring people closer but can also make it impossible to all get work done
    because the space is so tight. So people shut down and hide their feelings to keep the peace.
  • Contradictions; safe/trapped, providing/draining, giving/loosing, helping/cornering: the space
    between them is our shape.
  • I turn to the Moon…it radiates intense warmth on you. It defines our ‘outer-space’, the boundary of
    our community. Our inner space, where the heart is (a space always has a beat, a heart-beat, to keep
    you going,) is your privacy. The outer space around you is shared with everyone. You don’t have
    control over it: you only control your own space but it can not function with out a connection to the
    outer-space in some way.
  • There’s a heart-breaking rise in domestic abuse. We aren’t meant to live like this.
  • Families are realising that their habits need changing: who sleeps where, the kids autonomy, who
    deserves care.
  • Adapting to the 2 metre thing is so hard!
  • Feeling contaminated is weird.
  • feeling very isolate. And no hugs…
  • you feel exposed, threatened.
  • We are finding that the notion of Family= Safe space is not enough, that family can be
    claustrophobic and we are, and need to be, interconnected to a wider community in order to feel safe
    and happy.
  • You can’t take anything for granted, everything has to be planned!
    Sayings/Terms/phrases:
  • What goes around comes around
  • give and take.
  • A friend in need is a friend in deed
  • The new normal
  • Lockdown
  • Social distancing
  • mask-up
  • Bubbles
  • Loosen our Certainties.
  • Gather your dreams and let your spirit guide you.
  • Clapping for Carers
  • Safe and well.
  • Stories
    Images:
  • Tree of knowledge- including roots + mycelium + other smaller trees.
  • The Wood Wide Web
  • Elm leaves – local connection?
  • Sunflower
  • Dove
  • spirals
  • Installation:
    The 5 day Installation work will incorporate Volunteer skill-sharing with Sculptor and Builder.

  • Celebration:
    Originally we hoped to have a lovely event organized by the amazing ladies of the Afternoon Club
    who came to a workshop and were marvelous. During the Pandemic those days feel far off. So it is
    not incorporated in the Budget or plan but it is still a great idea. When the time is right it will be a
    very important, happy day for the Community.
  • There has been a lot of attention on this project and we were especially when the lovely, forward-thinking, down to earth Mayor visited and gave us some great feedback. Councillors have spent time listening and contributing. So have leaders from other excellent Community Projects. It feels really good to be part of a movement focussed on the quality of our daily lives and how we can support each other.
  • Site:
    Between the stunning Perenial Flower boarder and the Community Orchard.
    A 2 metre circular base incorporating the sculpture’s foundation and decorated with the spiraling
    mosaic, inset to be level with the ground, next to the pavement to allow inclusive access.
    The Community Orchard is in need of some TLC and a wild-flower meadow will be planted around
    the trees.
    This work should not expensive so we hope to use a portion of the budget for the costs.
    There is a fab opportunity to engage Volunteers to help with these improvements and to help with the ongoing up-keep of the lovely, important flower boarder and some lovely people have already signed up to support the extraordinary work Aubrey and his helpers have done.
    This also offers an opportunity to leave a legacy of engagement for our wonderful, creative participants
    once the Sculpture is complete.
  • There has been problems with people parking on this area on very busy days. The sculpture and
    improvements made around it will clarify the use of this part of the garden, improving it’s attractiveness.

Everyone is welcome to get involved by making a clay tile about your Covid 19/Lockdown experience for the mosaic base of the sculpture, or use the links on this Big Skill page to make your own expressive sculptures. If you could put any ideas or thoughts you have in the Comments here that would fantastic. I will be calling for things to add to the surface on my Osprey Studios FB too.

The Big Skill has a fab FB page where you will find all sorts of enjoyable, sharable things to get involved with, try out and give to your families and friends: The Big Skill Facebook Page.

A couple of the wonderful volunteers making Remember and Rebuild tiles in their own homes.

Katey Lyons is running Remember and Rebuild Tile workshops online and in person when possible. Here’s her video: join-in tile making for Remember and Rebuild.

Love Gardening? Contact The Big Skill to volunteer in the beautiful sensory and herb gardens, poly-tunnel and allotments and the leafy play area with it’s live woven willow shelter at Saxon Hall, Hereford! The big area around the sculpture has loads of room and potential. These photos only show half of it! There is a poly tunnel, raised allotment beds, a herb bed, the small orchard and beds all around the building!

The Schedual of Work and Budget.

The sculptor and the Project Manager work together to make the sculpture that speaks for the community. The Sculpture is not the work of one person but of the whole group who contribute in countless ways.

Once you know who is on board, what fascilities are available or needed, the proposed site (discuss the project ideas with everyone who currently uses the site for really valuable feed-back. This can be key in avoiding vandalism) and have a great ‘Brief’ you all believe in, you need to draw up a first draft budget and a first scale model. To help get the budget right (very important, there will only be a fixed sum available: if you over spend you will have to make up the difference) I make a Schedual of Work that describes the complete process, time-line, costs, resources needed, including who else I need on the team.

Feed-back on the model goes into the next model, adjust the budget, up-date the Brief (be sure to include the feed-back from the current site users) etc, until it all looks good.

Then present it clearly to the people who will make the final descision about proceeding. Use their valuable input to make the final Budget, Schedual of Work and scale model. Be sure costs of resources, especialy the work-space are right. Then present the final drafts to the descision makers for approval to proceed.

The Scale Model

6/2/21.

The Sculpture will be 2 metres high. The model is 21 cm high.

After weeks working through various versions, this final working draft of the model is 8% larger to allow for the clay’s shrinkage. In the full sized sculpture many of the strong lines may be softened but here they are clearly shown to guide me as I build over the many weeks this will take (the estimate on the Schedual of Work is 300 hours spread over 6 weeks to allow for drying time). The figure is just there for scale and I used it to guide the design. We want the interior space of the sculpture to be welcoming, a sheltering embrace.

The texture on the models have nothing to do with the final sculpture’s surface. Carved into the surface around the form will be writing and images about how this Pandemic has felt, given by all sorts of people in Hereford and anyone who joined in online.

Here is 3 posts that are very useful about making models including links for getting materials and tools: Making small sculpture and models.

Making Small Figures.

How to make Animals

There are lots of useful Step-by-step posts here: Osprey Studios Post Directory

Planning the Build.

Prepare the work space:

An internal structure made in the same Scarva ES50 Crank clay will support the sculpture as it grows upwards and stop it collapsing outwards to a point, so extra, external props will be needed: ensure there is space for them.

Face the sculpture so that you will have the best sight-lines for the most import parts.

A paper circle defines the base and will stop the sculpture sticking to the floor so it can shrink. And it will provide a ‘Map’ of the sculpture’s footprint so that we place the sculpture sections correctly at the Installation phase. So it is very important.

Plan the internal frame-work:

Any sculpture must endure all weathers and the possibility that adults will climb on it.

The structure must support itself during the build and when it being cut into sections. And when the sections are drying, being handled, fired and transported to the site.

Then it plays a role in the contruction process involving cement and iron rebars. It needs to be possible to insert the rebars accros the joins, get cement in there so that it fixes securly to a rough ‘key’ surface.

Over time water WILL get in there! So there needs to be drainage out of the structure.

I have been adding to this scrawl and amending it as new concerns or better ideas come up.

Start Building!!

Stage 1: building the Clay Armature.

This stage is all about blocking out the form by acuratly following the scale model and making a strong structure that will carry the outer layer of art-work that will be modelled/carved on to refine the form and add images and text in low relief.

As far as possible I will extend this load-bearing inner core vertically straight up. In places the holes through the form will cut accross it.

The rough process-marks will help key the cement and now they add strength to the walls in the way corrogation does. Here I am using Scarva ES50 Crank in large coils and the technique is explained here: How Coil Build with clay from small to monumental.

The first 50cm are the worst! It is obnoxious, hard labour especially if you are a decrepit old wreck like I am. Note the primary-school chair: invaluable! And a cushion for your knees: look after your body! Especially your back. The whole project will feel daunting and impossible. When building two of the huge pit-markers (5m x 2m, 6m x2m, 13 tons of clay) me and the team came up with 2 useful mantras: stick these on your bathroom mirror:

” One Bag at a time”

You have made a good, organised plan. Believe in it, trust it, adjust it where nessasary. Then focus on the needs of each bag of clay, good joins, even surface, careful drying. Then onto the next one. It will work. If bits collapse, rebuild them.

” Shuddup and get on with it”

Yep. Take lots of breaks, eat well, pace yourself. Some of the stages are really fun, exciting and spending your day with a big clay structure is actually awesome.

The wings growing out of the core will support the next outer layer.

Manage the drying very carefully using plastic, sprays of water, a hair-dryer, a fan, dehumidifier. Remember added clay will release water into hardened areas and soften them. And it will slowly percollate downwards, maturing your joins or ruining them if they were badly done.

17/2/21

Day 8 and the armature has reached 1metre high, the outer layers are going on and it is resting to allow the water to settle. 21x 12.5kg bags so far: 262.5kgs. That holds a lot of water!! In places there are 3 layers of wall so drying them to the leather-hard stage (that will be remarkably strong in this clay) is tricky and needs time. For the next 120cm the form will put a lot of strain on this lower section. These things do collapse sometimes and it is very annoying!!

The adjustable, metal bracket supporting the over-hang will stay there for the rest of the build and others will be used. I had them custom-made when we built the Blaengarw 2 Pit Markers mentioned above.

Ballarat and Ocean Colliery Pit Markers in progress in an old shop in Pontycymmer, Garw Valley. 13 tons of Coleford Brick Clay, a limited budget and timeline and an amazing team of fantastic local people who worked with me on everything from the design, research, build and the art-work on the sculpture!! Read about the technique used with Coleford Brick Clay, which is used in very soft, here: Building with brick clay on a monumental scale.

21/2/21

The armature is spending a few days in plastic to settle. The corse clay is wearing down my finger tips and if I’m not careful they will get splits that take ages to heal so they are also getting care and when I go back to the build I will put tape over them. Gloves move around too much and wear out really fast.

The focus has been on tightening up the form with carefull, gradual paddeling (especially using the rounded edge of a 1cm thick piece of wood: my Best Stick) and adding the third outer layer.

About 20cm of height is added and holes through the form are starting. Now it is at the widest point and will begin to curve inwards. This is a very scary, vulnerable transition, the most likely point to cause a collapse later in the build. I need to be able add clay on the lower surfaces at the art-work stage: this structure needs to be able to manage that new addition of softening water and the weight while still accepting the clay joins. When it is cut into sections the distribution of weight gets interupted and the structure needs to cope with that too. So the work is very slow and careful! And stressful!! But it’s a joy to see those curves starting to move.

A lot of weight is being added to this side. Small blocks and braces can make a lot of difference. It’s tempting to use a hair-dryer on the braces but that will rush the shrinkage on them and possibly lead them to crack and fail so a slow dry is important.

It looks crazy at the moment!

This post about the Tumble Commision describes a very wide sculpture-build with dramatic over-hangs where a lot of bonkers looking but really effective supports were used. At this point it’s helpful to look at where each stage leads to, especially for planning the internal clay supports that you wont be able to get at soon without making cuts: The Tumble Commision

15/03/21

5 weeks of building and t’s up to 1 metre 60 cms now and as the walls start to curve back inwards the point where it is most likely to collapse has passed. Hopefully, hahaha…

Parts I’m not working on are wrapped in plastic. At the end of the day everything but the soft parts are carefully wrapped and by the morning it is ready for more coils. I’m using smaller, shorter coils now and the work is much slower as the complicated areas around the holes are put it. I can do about 3 days and then it needs a rest day or two for the water to settle.

Then I go back and paddle accross everything: lower clay may have sagged a bit, curves become clearer. That might take all day. Lots of small adjustments, done in stages, will last better. Scarva ES 50 Crank is outstanding for not warping in the firing but uneven paddling will spoil that.

All the outer walls are there and now that the lower sections have hardened enough to be softened by adding extra clay I have started defining the main curves.

Because adding clay to the surfaces has to be done in stages I had to add now but idealy you wait until you have the whole form at this armature stage so that you can work with the full lines. So the careful, thoughtful work you do on the Scale Model becomes really important. Stick as closely as possible to the measurements from the model because of the follow on consequences in the form.

That said the form is big and developed enough that now I can respond to it in relation to my own human shape and size to get the comfortable, sheltered feel we want in that internal space. So I may choose to make big changes from the model. Because the armature is clay that is easy: you just cut parts off and rebuild them. Just remember to consider how the upper sections will need to be adjusted when you build them or your form might be ruined.

25/3/21

1 metre 86cm up. A lot of clay has gone onto the curves to define them. The bridge over window is in and those curves around it are better organised. It’s all starting to flow.

Some texture has gone on where plains needed defining. And the process-marks are looking great so I’m thinking a lot will stay. You have to be careful not to start avoiding changes that need making because you are trying to hang onto nice texture: The form is the priority. Then the carvings. The other texture and the section-cuts will work aroung those things as far as possible.

Standing inside feels really great.

6/4/21

205cm high, 737.5kg. The pace is much slower now and it is very close to being fully blocked out. As all the sides come together you find out how well you have followed the scale model!

The plastic stays on when possible to stop the lower sections getting too dry too soon. When it’s unwrapped a misting with the spray-bottle of water does that job. You need to be able to see and respond to the whole piece inorder to get the flow. That’s slow work. So once you know what needs doing next wrap the other areas up again. I spend a lot of time wrapping and unwrapping it!! But it’s important to keep the clay in good condition or it will collapse.

Although I havn’t gone up in height much more, the curves and texture have been developed by adding a lot of extra clay. Get a good bond first, shape it roughly by hand and then paddle the new clay into shape.

25/4/21

The form and the texture are now complete. Next comes the carvings and then the overall finishing touches which should take about 3 weeks.